Relief palpable for City College students returning for in-person learning

Campus requires proof of vaccination or exception and weekly testing

San Diego City College campus

Kathy Archibald

Approximately 20% of San Diego City College students returned to classrooms for in-person learning on Aug. 23. Photo by Kathy Archibald/City Times Media

Jakob McWhinney, Multimedia Journalist

The fall semester kicked off at San Diego City College on Aug. 23, and the campus welcomed students back for the first time since March 2020.

According to reporting by KPBS, the majority of instruction will continue remotely, but approximately 20% of City College students will be returning to classrooms for in-person learning.

And for students pursuing majors in subjects that do not translate to remote learning easily, the relief is palpable.

Angel Lopez, a 20-year-old theatre and business double major, returned to campus on Tuesday for the first time since the COVID pandemic began.

He said he has been vaccinated, and is in favor of City College’s decision to require proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 tests for students granted exemptions for in-person learning.

“It did make me feel a lot more comfortable because if they didn’t mandate it, there would be a lot more people that would come and they wouldn’t think about others,” Lopez said.

Jamie, a 21-year-old theatre major who declined to give her last name out of privacy concerns, said she was also in favor of the measures taken by City College.

“I think it’s reasonable,” she said. “I think everyone should be vaccinated and wear their mask when they’re in social settings.”

It’s her first time taking classes on campus but she said she preferred in-person learning to remote.

The start of classes coincided with the Federal Drug Administration’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine. But Jamie didn’t think the news would change the minds of unvaccinated students at City College.

“The people who are skeptical about it mostly comes from feelings and misinformation,” she said. “That’s not going to be deterred by the people who’ve already been telling them all along that it’s safe.”

East Village Middle College High School students Nour Kawkab, 17,  and Samrawit Woldeyohaannes, 18, described the experience of remote learning as stressful, depressing, overwhelming, hard and isolating.

“Especially when you don’t see your friends,” Kawkab said. “No support.”

They’re both vaccinated and support City Colleges’ measures.

“I feel like it’s a good idea because we’re in this together,”  Woldeyohaannes said. “If one person is sick, they spread it, and everyone is going to get sick.”

Added Kawkab: “It’s for your own good.” 

Both young women said their parents were hesitant to take the vaccine early on after hearing rumors about their safety, but were eventually convinced to take them after further proof of efficacy emerged.